Ehud Barak issued an ultimatum to the Daily Mail tabloid Wednesday to remove an article insinuating that the former prime minister had been present at one of Jeffrey Epstein’s homes when he was having women over.
An article that appeared in the newspaper Tuesday showed pictures of Barak with his face almost entirely covered by a neck warmer as he entered one of Epstein’s Manhattan homes around the same time a number of young women were also seen entering the mansion.
Epstein was arrested this month and accused of paying girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages and then molesting them at his homes in Palm Beach, Florida, and New York from 2002 through 2005. The charges, filed in New York, could carry up to 45 years in prison.
In the letter of warning to the Daily Mail Wednesday, Barak’s lawyers wrote,“your article is embarrassing… There are a number of serious accusations and defamatory insinuations that were made against our client that are completely untrue.”
“You attempted to link our client to the Epstein case, claiming that he was somehow involved in his pedophilia network. This is a lie as you know,” the lawyers continued.
The letter demanded that the Daily Mail retract the story by 7 p.m. Israel time and apologize to Barak, who has launched a political comeback as the chair of the Israel Democratic Party.
As of 8 p.m. the article remained on the newspaper’s website.
The letter from Barak’s lawyers also chided the tabloid for failing to ask for a response before running the article.
“At best, your motive was naive and irresponsible, and at worst, you intentionally and maliciously harm our client in order to harm his reputation, thereby helping his political rival,” the lawyers wrote, suggesting that the Daily Mail had been politically motivated.
The photos posted Tuesday were taken in 2016. At the time, the Daily Mail published other photos of Barak, with the neck warmer above his head, and called him “an unidentified man” who entered the home accompanied by a bodyguard, under the headline “The busy life of Jeffrey Epstein: Group of gorgeous Manhattan ‘it’ girls in and out of the billionaire sex offender’s mansion before Clinton pal flies off in private jet with comely brunette.”
Earlier Wednesday, Barak posted a picture on Facebook with his face covered, noting that “When it’s cold, I tend to cover my face. Not only in New York… Until now, I didn’t think that was a news story…”
The British tabloid noted that the women photographed also entering Epstein’s home did it “on the same day” as Barak and “within hours.” However, the Mail did not provide a clear timeline of the photos, and it was not clear whether they were taken before Barak entered, during his time there, or after he left.
If he was in the house at the same time as the women, it could contradict his earlier assertions that he “never met Epstein in the company of women or young girls.”
Speaking to the Daily Beast in comments published Monday, Barak confirmed it was him in the photos.
“It is me in the picture,” he said. “It was so cold the Middle Easterner had to put on a hat. I was there, for lunch or chat, nothing else. So what?”
He said he visited Epstein’s mansions and private Caribbean island, but insisted he never attended parties of a sexual nature there.
Barak has come under scrutiny after his continuing business and personal ties with Epstein emerged last week.
On Saturday, Barak said that he was looking into dissolving his limited partnership with Epstein after it emerged that the US financier was a major investor in the Reporty startup headed by Barak in 2015, seven years after Epstein served time for solicitation.